The Coronavirus Threat
Which ingredient has been shown to INHIBIT SARS-COV VIRUSES via strong antiviral activity?
What has been shown to help REDUCE DURATION AND SYMPTOMS OF CORONAVIRUSES!*
Learn why TESTOSTERONE IS CRUCIAL in immune response
Find out how ANDROSTENEDIOL SUPPORTS IMMUNITY and infectious disease response
Find out why it is NOT THE BEST KNOWN INGREDIENTS that you need most
Which ingredients have ANTI-VIRAL PROPERTIES?
What supplements SUPPORT IMMUNE FUNCTION?
Which ingredients INHIBIT INFLUENZA STRAINS?
Plus what TRIPLE STACK OF ANTIVIRAL INGREDIENTS is included in two separate Hydrapharm products?
We have spent months studying the research on nutraceutical and hormonal agents to help you make informed decisions:
- What supplements could help to support immunity
- Which ones have the best research
- Which ones to avoid
- Which have evidence specifically in relation to coronaviruses and influenza strain
- What strategies maximise your personal safety during the pandemic
- And lots lots more
*Coronaviruses refer to a family of viruses not an individual virus
Nobody could have missed the rise of the new coronavirus disease, COVID-19, from being unknown in 2019, to be the biggest story of 2020 or likely any other year this century. Covid-19 is caused by the viral pathogen, SARS-CoV-2, a virus in the coronavirus family which as the name suggests, is part of the same family of coronaviruses as SARS-CoV, which led to an outbreak in 2002-03 which led to the deaths of 774 people.
In late 2019, an outbreak of COVID-19, a novel disease triggered by SARS-CoV-2, was first identified in Wuhan, China and to date writing on March 17,2020 there have been close to 8,000 officially confirmed deaths globally with a projected infection mortality rate of 1% (the percentage who contract the disease who die) and a projected case fatality range (deaths in those with positive tests) of up to 15% for the world excluding China according to a recent study published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, which adjusts for the time lag between infection and death. 
With infectious disease specialists estimating that it could infect anywhere from 40% -70% of all people on the planet, and have a potential death toll in the UK alone of up to 400,000 it is undoubtedly a serious threat to human health.
Permanent Damage Likely to Those who Recover?
The virus is not localised to a single area of the body, so we would caution anyone who thinks it is not a serious threat to the young and healthy to consider that, as of now, there has been zero evidence of recovered patients having recovered fully, as in restored to their health prior to contracting the infection.
On the other hand, there have been numerous reports showing that those infected who subsequently recover are left with damage to their body that may be permanent including damage to their lungs leading to recovered patients struggling with their lung function to even damage to their testes, sperm counts, androgen function, small intestines, kidney, heart and thyroid.  
When you consider SARS fatality rate was half that of the current projected case fatality rate predicted for COVID-19, a particularly worrying feature is that those who recovered from SARS showed serious long-term damage to numerous organs and struggled with poor health even 12-15 years after they had recovered  . We highly recommend you read the actual studies yourselves to appreciate the magnitude of the damage they were left with. When a cohort of subjects who had an average age of 35 years old when they contracted SARS, none of whom drank or smoked are left with permanently poor health even 12 years later, it should act as a wake-up call to anyone who has a casual attitude to contracting COVID-19.
Practices to Support Immunity and Prevent Infections
Before we move on to discuss the research around the effects on immune function of a range of nutrients, a quick word on non-nutrient based interventions that support immunity and help reduce your chances of contracting an infectious disease in the first place.
We would strongly advise anyone seeking to focus on prevention and immune system support to focus on these first. They have the strongest evidence base of all approaches to ensuring you stay healthy and any use of supplements should be done after you have incorporated these into your daily life.
|A Healthy, Nutritious Diet||Aim to eat 5 portions of fruit or veg daily + above maintenance calories, 6-10g of omega 3’s and at least 1g/kg of protein per bodyweight.|
|Control Inflammation||Inflammation is a risk factor in numerous diseases, including the flu , so aim to consume a diet that limits inflammation.
Protein - In general, eat more lean sources of protein like low fat cuts of meat, fish of all kinds, and whey protein. Most protein rich food has a minimal impact on inflammation with the exception of higher fat cuts of red meat or processed meats like burgers, bacon and sausages.
Carbohydrates - Aim to consume mainly non-processed sources such as rice, pasta, oats, but avoiding wheat if you struggle with gluten. Eating lots of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, and cauliflower is great but avoid again heavily processed foods like French fries, sodas, and refined bread.
Fats – Most fat intake will tend to be incidental to the consumption of other foods which if carefully selected as above, should mean the only real fats you should look to include are foods rich in beneficial fats such as omega-3 fatty acids found in sardines and mackerel and other oily fish.
Alternatively, if those aren’t to your fancy, you can supplement your diet with fish oil as found in Predator Super Omega - a high quality EPA/DHA rich fish oil supplement.
|Avoid Smoking/Vaping||Smoking massively increases the incidence and severity of respiratory infections with studies estimating it makes you up to 14 times as likely to die or get severe illness than non-smokers  with both smoking and e-cigarettes leading to worse outcomes with respiratory infections.|
|Minimise exposure to sick people||Stay away from those who are sick and try to avoid going within 6 feet of those who appear well as they could be asymptomatic and still highly infectious. Respiratory droplets are a key transmission mechanism but so would any skin to skin contact.|
|Hydration||Aim to drink around 3 litres of water daily for general health.|
|Sleep||Aim for 8 hrs of sleep a night if possible. Avoid blue light emitting sources and your phone in the hour before bed. Try a research backed supplement like Revival which incorporates ingredients has been shown to help attenuate stress, anxiety and aid in deeper, more restorative sleep. Explore our full range of sleep supplements.|
|Stress||Meditation, drinking chamomile tea, watching Netflix, avoid too much bad news– do what you must to help you relax especially at night. The same supplements designed for sleep can in most cases be repurposed for stress support – good options include Revival, Ashwagandha and CBD products.
Bonus: Ashwagandha also helps with hormonal regulation which we touch on below plays a key role in severity of outcomes for some respiratory viral infections.
|Personal Hygiene||Aim to wash your hands for 30 secs with warm water and soap. Wash your hands every hour or less. After washing your hands, we recommend disposable paper towels, to dry your hands.|
|Disinfect Surfaces||A study in Singapore on Coronavirus infected patients found that surfaces needed to be regularly cleaned with an antimicrobial disinfectant. If this was done, the rooms were clear of coronavirus despite hosting infected patients.
Another room containing a patient was examined before cleaning. In this situation the virus had contaminated 13 out of 15 room sites including air outlet fans, and the toilet bowl, sink and door handles.
The lesson is to clean surfaces regularly, including phones, door handles, laptops, desks, fridge doors – ANYTHING you touch should be cleaned regularly.
The good news in this study, is that despite the surfaces being contaminated, the virus was not present in the air, those tests being negative despite widespread contamination elsewhere.
|Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth||Scratch your head if you must, touch your forehead by all means but never touch an area with your fingers which acts as a pathogen entry point. If you absolutely must because of an itch, wrap your fingers in tissue paper or else do so immediately after washing your hands. If you can use your feet, elbows or shoulders to open doors.|
|Exercise||Aim to exercise 3-4 times a week. Avoid daily high intensity exercise as this can make you more likely to fall ill and be wary of ramping up exercise intensity or volume too quickly. For those who are training heavily in particular, we highly recommend supplementing those supplements shown to be effective in hard training athletes for protecting against infections.|
|Stay Fit and Lean||While this might seem linked to the importance of exercise, excessive bodyfat is a risk factor in and of itself, not only the coronavirus but many diseases in general. To be sure, the link is strongest in those classified as obese, but there exists a sliding scale between the health of someone having an optimum level of body fat and those who are extremely overweight.
As such, we should all strive to maintain our body composition at a level that is optimal, avoiding also the temptation to diet down to extremely low levels of bodyfat seen among competition bodybuilders or some endurance cyclists as that can make you more susceptible to illness.
A Review of Supplements Used for Supporting Immunity
There is a huge amount of research that has been conducted into the different supplements which show evidence of being useful in protecting the body from infection, supporting immune function, or even showing antimicrobial properties. For those interested in receiving a pdf book which goes into greater detail than this article permits, you can signup to claim a free copy by entering your email address below. However, this article summarises most of the key findings.
For those more interested in what to take, and how much to take you can use the table below to help guide you but we recommend you read the detailed notes against each nutrient so you can best select the particular supplements that will be most beneficial in your unique case.
Supplements for Supporting Immunity
|Berberine, Oxymatrine, Ecklonia Cava||*****||Buy Elixir Blend|
|Male Health||*****||Buy Male Health|
|Premium Multivitamin Blend (Incl. Vitamin C, D and E)||*****||Buy Premium Vitamin Blend|
|Vitamin C||****||Buy Vitamin C|
|Vitamin D||****||Buy Vitamin D|
|Female Health||***||Buy Female Health|
|Green Tea||*||Buy Green Tea|
Note that in grading the nutrients above from 5 stars (most useful) to 1 stars (least useful), we have made a decision based on the numerous factors discussed below including the quality and scope of potential effects, the quality of evidence, and focused on those nutrients shown in research to have antiviral effects or evidence of effectiveness against respiratory tract infections in the research database reviewed.
Berberine – Strong Antimicrobial Action
Berberine is a natural ingredient which has shown anti-influenza activity as well as its anti-inflammatory, and broad antimicrobial action against viruses, fungus, and bacteria. The researchers stated “berberine strongly suppressed viral replication” and relieved symptoms including pulmonary inflammation, a common symptom of respiratory infections.
A separate study on berberine’s effects on viral infections concluded that “Berberine derivatives inhibits various strains of influenza” , and it exhibits antiviral effects both in vitro and in vivo with the ability to inhibit virus infection in influenza and improving pathogenic changes by repressing inflammatory substance release.
Oxymatrine – Antiviral and Anti-Inflammatory Compound
Oxymatrine has evidence supporting its ability to inhibit influenza replication and reduce inflammation with it being used in clinical settings for years while one study from 2018 showed it exhibits “excellent anti influenza A virus activity” and was able to reduce activity in eight different strains of influenza and “suppress the expressions of inflammatory cytokines”.
Furthermore, oxymatrine showed significant symptomatic improvements with the ability to “significantly increases survival rate, decrease the lung index, pulmonary inflammation andf lung viral tittle, and improve pulmonary histopathological changes.”
Ecklonia Cava – Anti-Coronavirus and Antimicrobial Activity
Ecklonia Cava – A compound derived from seaweed, ecklonia cava has a number of remarkable properties including not just antiviral but antimicrobial, antioxidant and anticancer properties, as well as more recently being investigated as a treatment for the prevention and treatment of influenza infections with it displaying potent inhibitory effects against influenza as well as effects that make it useful for improving body composition, antiviral, protecting liver function and showing anti-inflammatory effects.
Ecklonia Cava and Coronaviruses
Even more interestingly, this study noted the following:
“Given the importance of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 3C-like proteinase (SARS-CoV 3CLpro) in viral replication, a biological assessment was completed on the phlorotannins isolated from E. cava. In this study, the E. cava phlorotannins were shown to inhibit SARS-CoV3CLpro competitively in cell-free systems."
While this does not refer to the same coronavirus that is in the news now, it does provide yet another sign of the potential of ecklonia cava. You can find more information on ecklonia cava’s potential benefits with respect to coranaviruses in a 2013 study that concluded it had “strong antiviral activity… and may be developed into natural therapeutic drugs against coronavirus infection.”
Interestingly enough, the researchers concluded that of all the potential health benefits associated with ecklonia cava extract, the most potential could relate to its anti-carcinogenic effects. We’d recommend reading the full study to learn more.
For those interested in using berberine, oxymatrine, or ecklonia cava there is one supplement which contains all three, Elixir by Hydrapharm.
Male Health & Testosterone - Crucial to Fighting Infection
Generally, as we age, levels of male hormones decline, this being one reason our ability to maintain optimal fitness and health is compromised as we age. A number of studies support the fact that testosterone or similar types of androgens such as androstenediol play a crucial role in combating influenza, augmenting immune system response, counteracting cortisol rises, and improving survival rates while helping to explain why elderly males suffer disproportionately from respiratory infections compared to younger men.
Indeed, evidence shows that by increasing levels of testosterone you can both reduce the severity of respiratory infections and reduce mortality. Furthermore, with increasing awareness of the role of inflammation as a key factor in driving disease severity and mortality, one study showed that lowered levels of testosterone, resulted in greater inflammation and mortality after influenza infection.
One last thing to consider is that research showing that both young males (<age 20) and eldery men (>age 80) have a higher rate of hospitalisation and mortality which appears to suggest it is the level of circulating androgens like testosterone that is correlated with infection severity, potentially more than age, at least with some pathogens.
Salidroside - Antiviral Properties & Proven in Athletes
Salidroside is the most biologically active constituent in the herb rhodiola rosea. It is typically used for its anti-stress/cognitive benefits with one study stating it works due to its ability to regulate stress response, inhibit oxidative stress, enhance neural regeneration and exert anti-inflammatory benefits. Its ability to regulate stress and reduce inflammation is matched by its consistent antiviral activity with research showing it can combat dengue fever, coxsackievirus B3, and respiratory viral infections.
Most interestingly, is Salidroside’s potential antiviral properties for athletes. In a study from 2015, competitive athletes were given either a rhodiola supplement or placebo and the authors concluded that supplementing with “rhodiola may exert protective effects against virus replication following intense and prolonged exercise by inducing antiviral activity.” With this study using a lower purity of salidroside, there exists the potential for even more marked antiviral action for isolated salidroside.
Finally, numerous studies have shown Salidroside’s potential in ameliorating sepsis induced lung injury, and protection against pulmonary fibrosis. Attacking the lungs and causing pulmonary fibrosis is one of the most common symptoms seen in those for whom Covid-19 turns severe or fatal.
BPC-157 - Tremendous Evidence of Healing Properties
A pentadecapeptide based amino acid a study from 2018 reveals that BPC-157 was able to counteract severe lesions induced by excessive intakes of alcohol, indeed, BPC-157 completely cured all alcohol lesions.
BPC-157 has also been shown to have strong healing properties in both regenerating skin damage, and damage to the colon. completely counteract the negative effects of NSAID overdoses to multiple body organs including the liver , protect the liver, brain, reduce arthritic pain, alleviate disturbances of body temperature, and improve blood vessel function to name but a few of the areas where BPC-157 was shown to be highly effective.
We have covered only a fraction of the research conducted into BPC-157 but we have yet to come across a single study where it failed to help improve symptoms associated with a particular condition. One area that has not been studied to date is whether it has any benefits in preventing or treating infectious diseases such as influenza but what we can say is that some of the damage associated with such diseases occurs in organs such as the lungs, and BPC-157 has been shown to promote recovery in such organs where the injury occurred through a different mechanism than an infectious disease.
Echinacea - Herb for Immune Support
Echinacea– Arguably the best known supplement for immunity, Echinacea is a herb which has a long history of use for reducing the incidence of sickness and for reducing the time people are sick for, as well as lowering symptom severity. These benefits are acknowledged even by leading hospitals and public healthcare systems.
Vitamin C - Reduces Cold Duration, Severity and Incidence for Athletes
Vitamin C is arguably the supplement that springs to mind for the general public if asked for a nutrient that could help with immunity. Vitamin C plays a key role in the production of immune cells and is often used in hospital environments to help support patients’ immunity, including being used in China among coronavirus patients.
A meta-analysis of 29 studies investigated the use of over 200mg per day of vitamin C in preventing and treating the common cold. They noted that while the ingestion of vitamin C did not reduce the incidence of those falling ill, it did reduce the time to recovery in a way that was both modest and consistent. However, in situations where the study participants were exposed to extreme physical stress (high levels of exercise), vitamin C halved the risk of developing the common cold. In other words, for those engaging in regular, intensive bouts of exercise, vitamin C would be a particularly appropriate supplement to use on a daily basis as it not only reduces the duration of having a cold but also helps ensure you are less likely to catch them.
Furthermore, a separate study noted that vitamin C was able to enhance immune cell action and decrease lung inflammation caused by influenza viruses, as well as to reduce the duration and severity of the common cold.
Vitamin D - Helps Prevent Respiratory Infections
Widely deficient in countries in temperate or cold climates, a 2011 study in the British Journal of Nutrition noted a linear association between vitamin D status and seasonal infections stating “the prevalence of respiratory infections had a strong seasonal pattern in the opposite direction to the pattern of vitamin D concentrations”
A meta-analysis for the British Medical Journal, published in 2017, reviewed 25 high quality studies involving double-blind, placebo controlled trials involving vitamin D and concluded “Vitamin D supplementation reduced the risk of acute respiratory tract infection among all participants”.
This confirms Vitamin D’s place as among the most highly regarded supplements for supporting health and wellbeing.
Does that mean you should worry about taking too much vitamin D?
Looking into the results more closely, it turns out that the bolus doses being given participants were at least 30,000IU, this dose coming on top of their regular daily or weekly vitamin D doses. Given that general guidelines for vitamin D supplementation are anywhere between 1,000 and 4,000IU daily, a dose of 30,000IU in addition to a standardised daily dose looks extremely high and at least based on this review, had a negative effect.
Zinc - Widely Deficient Mineral for Supporting Immune Status
Zinc is an essential mineral widely noted to be deficient among most populations, with athletes in particular at risk of “significantly lower” zinc status.
Given zinc’s role in testosterone production as well, with deficiencies linked to lower testosterone levels, many athletes will be taking a ZMA supplement which would correct the types of deficiencies seen above. If not, we would highly recommend they do for testosterone support and improved sleep quality, if nothing else.
What about the role of zinc in immunity though?
Studies show zinc is important for immune function and limiting inflammation with deficiencies associated with increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines Of note, the high proportion of deaths in young adults during the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 was attributed to pro-inflammatory cytokine storms.
One last study on zinc specifically looked at how zinc deficiency contributed to an increased risk of infection with influenza, while those took supplemental zinc had a significantly lower risk of contracting pneumonia requiring antibiotics than those who did not supplement with zinc.
Vitamin E - Fat-Soluble Vitamin Most are Deficient in. 
While there is research indicating potential benefits of vitamin E supplementation in reducing the risk of contracting cancer, and Parkinson’s disease, we investigated studies its effects on immune function.
A 2018 review looked at 14 studies in humans and stated “many studies provided evidence that the immunostimulatory effects of vitamin E confer improved resistance to infections” but that the “magnitude of the effects were rather small” or “only observed in subgroups of subjects”. However, the effects of vitamin E supplementation specifically with respect to respiratory infections caused by influenza virus, shows that vitamin E supplementation helped to enhance influenza viral clearance or helped defend against influenza infection.
Female Health and Estrogen
In general females tend to handle pathogenic respiratory viruses with the caveat that the poorer male response is likely linked to age-related declines in hormones such as testosterone.
A number of nutrients have been shown to have both estrogenic and/or beneficial effects relating to respiratory disease, of which some of the better-known ones with promise include angelica sinensis, vitamin D, chasteberry extract, and soy isoflavones.
Probiotics - Reduced Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Athletes
Probiotics remain a confusing category due to the multiple strains of different probiotic ingredients, and variance in doses. Still, studies show probiotics outperformed a placebo in reducing the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections, significantly outperformed a placebo among an elderly population in a nursing home, improved survival rate in mice infected with two particularly virulent forms of influenza and significantly reduced the incidence of upper respiratory infection and flu-like symptoms.
Of particular note, there is evidence supporting the ability of probiotic supplements to reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections in trained athletes when they consumed a multi-species probiotic supplement.
When it comes to supplementing with a probiotic, one range of probiotics that has an excellent evidence base is the Neobium range.
Green Tea - Antioxidant for General Health
One study investigated whether green tea could show anti-influenza action in chickens infected with the H1N1 strain and results revealed that in a dose-dependent manner, green tea consumption was indeed associated with strong anti-influenza activity.
A different study investigated whether tea catechins found in green tea could be beneficial in cases of infection with both influenza and the common cold. The authors concluded that while the antiviral activity of catechins had been demonstrated, and epidemiological studies have suggested regular green tea consumption decreases influenza infection rates and cold symptoms, there is nevertheless the need for more clinical evidence to support their utility.
We do not know at this stage if green tea consumption in humans is specifically beneficial in preventing or ameliorating symptoms of infectious diseases but in both animals and in vitro studies, consumption of green tea can help inhibit viral replication.
Of course, there is no guarantee that any action an individual takes, can prevent them falling sick but by prioritising their lifestyle habits and then supplementing with carefully selected nutrients based on scientific evidence, we can ensure that we do what we can to optimise our wellbeing as far as we can.